LC Community Pays Tribute to Hugo Verschoren (1956-2022)

The Trade Finance community has lost not only a great expert, but also a warm personality.

Hugo Verschoren started his career at Bank Brussels Lambert, checking documents at the Antwerp branch (where important traders and exporters were serviced). After some years he moved to the Credit Department before returning to the Foreign Trade Dept. in a commercial function, followed by a managerial role. Hugo sometimes said that these different jobs gave him a unique 360° view on trade finance in all its aspects which helped him analyse problems or disputes from different angles before making a decision or coming to a sound conclusion, but always taking into consideration the practicality of solution(s) for the stakeholders involved; a down-to-earth approach that truly helps people!

Hugo participated in the Belgian National Committee and the ICC Banking Commission since the late 1980s, when only 150 to 200 bankers were members. In countless meetings or working groups at ICC, ICC Belgium, or other events in Vienna or worldwide he could raise controversial issues and critical questions. During the revision of UCP or ISBP he made valuable comments. He liked to debate on a wide range of topics and he defended his opinion with conviction but he remained open to the arguments of his opponents.

ING took over Bank Brussels Lambert in 1998 and Hugo spent several years at ING headquarters for group-wide matters on trade finance. There he was active in the Dutch National Committee. After returning to Belgium he broadened his scope to Basel, compliance, and financial crime in trade matters. He participated in several ICC working groups, including the Trade Register, Incoterms, and Financial Crime.

Hugo was not only an experienced and capable trade finance expert passionate about his job but also a fascinating and vivid speaker and panelist. Many times he helped and supported bankers, companies, and all kinds of organisations. As a result of his wide ranging activities he built a broad national and international network. But this was not only thanks to his knowledge: Hugo was also a warm personality, sympathetic, always ready for a joke showing his opportune sense of humour, and enjoying a good Belgian beer.

As a result Hugo was also very much appreciated in many communities outside the trade finance world. He liked hiking with his friends, spent much energy at a theatre company, and a club on modern art & culture. But above all he cared much for his family and many friends.

In summer 2022 an incurable disease was detected much too late. Hugo died in his beloved Antwerp, surrounded by his family, at the age of 66.

We can but express our admiration for such an impressive career and above all our gratitude of having had the opportunity to have known or just met him.

The Trade Finance community has indeed lost a remarkable personality.

— On behalf of Hugo’s colleagues at ICC Belgium,
Emile Rummens, Eddy De Coster, and Mireille Troosters

I was so saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Hugo. A few of us had the opportunity to speak with Hugo recently which provided us the opportunity to share our prayers and well wishes though we honestly hoped and prayed for Hugo’s recovery. None believed it would be our last contact and such is the way of life. I meet Hugo some 13 years ago in Vienna and through the years we’d collaborated in yearly ICC trade finance seminars/webinars, at ICC meetings, and other events. Often, you could find us good naturedly ridiculing each other over some trade nuance. Our mutual respect for each other morphed into friendship allowing us to meet for dinners or a pint. Hugo very much enjoyed the series Faulty Towers and incorporated aspects of it in his seminars. It was most amusing when he incorporated the show’s references into his Basel-related seminars which explained the Basel concepts in simple terms for dummies such as me. Those unfamiliar with the series may not be aware that a main character is “Basil”, played by John Cleese. The trade world has lost a needed expert and educator while his family has lost a good-natured, loving father/husband and I have lost a friend. Someone so special cannot be forgotten and while I mourn his passing, I also celebrate his accomplishments and the expertise he gathered and readily imparted throughout his lifetime.

— Glenn Ransier
Principal Product Manager
Global Receivable and Trade Finance
Wells Fargo Bank (Charlotte)

I first met Hugo many years ago at an ICC Banking Commission Plenary meeting. Always so approachable, I found him to be engaging, well-informed, and a strong advocate for educating others. Our friendship grew over the years as we worked on numerous projects together and our community has been much enhanced by his contributions.

Even very recently, during a session I moderated at the ICC Banking Commission meeting in Paris in October, which Hugo attended virtually, he provided some very pertinent contributions. I consider myself fortunate that I had that opportunity to interact with him one final time. Hugo will be greatly missed, but I feel so privileged that we became friends as well as colleagues.

— David Meynell
Senior Technical Advisor
ICC Banking Commission

When trying to remember when I first met Hugo, I found it difficult because I feel like I’ve known him for so long. Hugo has been such a supporter of IIBLP and what we and other organizations improving LC practice do that one could write pages showing everything he has done. Others have and will do so, but one thing about Hugo that stood out to me beyond his immense knowledge in the LC field came during a prep call for one of our first virtual events about a year and a half ago. We were lucky enough to have Hugo join the Conference Steering Committee, and as we were coordinating panel assignments, Hugo mentioned he was unable to moderate on the event’s second day because of a prior commitment. He mentioned that he was administering Covid vaccines to the elderly, but would happily participate on our event’s first day.

Upon further questioning, Hugo told us that he was also a volunteer participant in one of the Covid vaccine pilots, and part of his duties was to write daily reports covering how he felt, his temperature, any potential exposures along with frequent testing. I was thrilled to finally know someone helping to bring about a vaccine that would resolve this global pandemic and perhaps let us return to some level of normalcy. Hugo’s commitment to volunteering his time to help his fellow humans, whether to educate the trade finance field or to administer vaccines, is incredible and something to both admire and strive for.

— Michael P. Byrne
Institute of International Banking Law & Practice

Hugo will always be remembered by those who knew him, worked with him, and attended his training sessions. Although we rarely disagreed on those few times when we saw a problem and a solution from different perspectives, Hugo was always willing to share the reasons for his position and to listen to the other person’s views as well. I have been blessed to travel the world and meet thousands of people and I have never known anyone I respected as much as Hugo. We worked together many times at the ICC Austria Trade Finance week in Vienna and the past three years in online meetings – actually, it was fun, not ‘work’, whenever I was partnered with Hugo in a discussion.

— Don Smith

I had the opportunity to meet and greet Hugo on three occasions and even though the exchanges were rather quick and truly formal, his passion for trade is something that stayed with me. We later had several interesting and passionate exchanges/discussions on trade topics across various professional virtual platforms. I found him to be one of the very few who truly followed his passion for trade, always willing to share his vast knowledge with peers and beyond, and definitely someone who expressed his opinion (including disagreements) without much dread. The trade community lost its superstar way too soon.

— Vivek Singh
Head, Trade Expertise Desk
BNP Paribas (Brussels)

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